Joined: 21 Nov 2005
|Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:42 am Post subject:
Advice from the Zaccheaus Trust
|ITHOLDING A PORTION OF THE RISE IN COUNCIL TAX|
Set out below you will find the result of consultation it has had with Mr Paul Nicolson of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust. This is a Charitable Trust that has concerned itself with persons involved in court action etc. to claim outstanding debt. Mr Nicholson has listed the steps that are taken to recover debt and has given advice as to any individual’s actions. Note the question of bailiffs limitations and restictions. You will also see the offer of providing help both from him and Mr Alan Murdie, one of their barrister trustees.
His message is as follows.
Perhaps I can help your group of pensioners demonstrating against the council tax increases as I have already been through all that. Needless to say they have my total support. They might know what will happen already but if not I hope this helps both them and you. I would be glad to meet them.
1. They will be sent reminder letters by the Local Authority (LA).
2. When they have not paid, the LA, sometimes through an out sourced agent like CAPITA, will apply to the magistrates court for a liability order. This will add costs to the bill of £60 or so. Perhaps a good photo opportunity if they all turn up at the court on the same day at the same time.
3. When/if they do turn up at court they will find LA reps in a room in the court coming to agreements with the defaulters to pay. Very few do turn up so the magistrates give the LA their liability orders.
4. From then on the LA have to attempt distress before they apply for a committal warrant. The bailiffs have no right of entry so the pensioners should never open the door. They will be warned by letter that the bailiffs are coming. They will be threatened with prison, removal of their furniture and bankruptcy.
5. Since April 2002 the bailiffs are asked to take into account the attached "vulnerable situations" page for the National Standards for Enforcement Agents issued by the Lord Chancellor's Department and should be made to do so. Bailiffs will add their costs that mount up for letters and visits.
6. If they have still refused to pay and the bailiffs have failed to collect then the LA will apply to the magistrates for committal to prison. They must turn up at the hearing. Alan Murdie, one of our barrister trustees, and I can help them at this stage.
7. At the hearing they should present a detailed means statement of income expenditure and debts. We can provide a form used by magistrates. Prison is not the inevitable outcome. The arrears can be deducted by order of the court from their pensions. Payments of arrears have to be proportional to means. However it is a real risk but they did not send me. They deducted from my pay. The court can imprison for "wilful refusal" and "culpable neglect". Again court costs will be added. If they all go to court at the same time it will be yet another opportunity for photos and press coverage.
If they are not already aware of all this then forewarned is forearrned
YOU WILL NOT BE ALONE IN THIS FIGHT
National Standards for Enforcement Agents – Page 9
Published by the Lord Chancellor’s Department – April 2002.
Enforcement agents/agencies and creditors must recognise that they each have a role in ensuring that the vulnerable and socially excluded are protected and that the recovery process includes procedures agreed between the agent/agency and creditor about how such situations should be dealt with. The appropriate use of discretion is essential in every case and no amount of guidance could cover every situation, therefore the agent has a duty to contact the creditor and report the circumstances in situations where there is potential cause for concern. If necessary, the enforcement agent will advise the creditor if further action is appropriate. The exercise of appropriate discretion is needed, not only to protect the debtor, but also the enforcement agent who should avoid taking action which could lead to accusations of inappropriate behaviour.
Enforcement agents must withdraw without making enquiries if the only persons present are children who appear to be under the age of 12.
Wherever possible, enforcement agents should have arrangements in place for rapidly accessing translation services when these are needed, and provide on request information in large print or in
| Those who might be potentially vulnerable include:|
people with a disability;
the seriously ill;
the recently bereaved;
single parent families;
unemployed people; and,
those who have obvious difficulty in understanding, speaking or reading English.
If you would like a copy of a schedule of means form, please ask.